After the Boom

Finch thinks screamo can exist without the skinny jeans and flatirons

"We don’t all have the coolest haircuts. And we don’t have the tightest jeans… We wear other cool band shirts, but just the hair… Give us a chance even though we don’t have good haircuts.”

That’s what Alex Linares has to offer as a ringing endorsement for his band, Finch.

It’s a sarcastic statement, but it’s one that expresses the odd position that Finch occupies in their genre’s landscape. The group toes a tenuous line: They’re respected by scads of younger bands — who’ve borrowed sonically from Finch’s breakout album, 2002’s What It Is To Burn — but have a distinct aesthetic from than the bands they’ve influenced.

In the early 2000s, screamo was an up-and-coming genre in alternative rock circles, and Finch became one of the first bands to be slapped with the label. Used to describe a multitude of dissimilar bands, screamo (screaming emo = screamo) essentially referred to anything that mixed screaming vocals with any type of melodic punk.

For a minute there, Finch and other bands like Thursday and the Used received a lot of ink: Screamo was slated to be “the next big thing.” Seattle’s Vendetta Red even had a nationally run Pepsi radio spot. But that was kind of it: The genre never really took off in the way that many expected it to. While hundreds of bands popped up to ape the style and fill the Warped Tour’s lineup, the genre’s mainstream chances had died within a couple years. What was once getting magazine covers and late night talk show appearances had become a niche genre.

And Finch is happy it did. “I’m kinda glad it went away,” says Linares. “I hoped we could move beyond it.

“One day four bands were doing it, and the next day there are like 400 bands doing it. It just overwhelmed the scene. I don’t think kids were able to focus on one band with too much stuff coming out,” he continues. “That, and it may have been too schticky — too stylized. Too specific of a look and [a] sound. It got too old too quick.”

After following up What It Is To Burn with the heavier, less pop-oriented Say Hello to Sunshine, the band went on hiatus in 2006. Finch was burned out and it was starting to wear on their friendships; in many ways the band’s quick rise and sudden disappearance paralleled the screamo boom.

Finch reconvened in early 2008 and feels stronger and more together than ever. The group already has enough new material to “probably put out a double album,” Linares says — but they’re putting off recording because they only have five or six songs that they truly love.

But a strange thing happened while Finch was away, Linares says. Somewhere along the line this whole screamo thing transformed into an image-based genre — just as driven by wardrobe as it is by riffs and drum fills.

But Finch won’t stoop to that. They want their music to speak louder than any angular haircut. When asked if he thinks bands are too image conscious now, Linares replies plainly: “When I’m backstage, and I can’t find an outlet because they’re being used for flatirons, I would say, yeah, that’s probably true.”

Finch plays with Blessthefall, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Of Mice & Men and Let’s Get It at the Blvd on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 5:30 pm. Tickets: $15; $17, door. All-ages. Visit www.brownpapertickets. com or call 455-7826.